If you want more time to complete income generating tasks in your business then you need to learn to delegate. We’ve all heard and used this word several times but how many of us really know how to delegate effectively? If you work within a team, delegating to team members is a win-win situation. You free up time to think more strategically and complete value adding activities whilst developing the team.
If you are a solopreneur, you may be thinking – It’s just me, I can’t delegate? I say YES YOU CAN! For example, you can delegate your administrative duties to an in-house assistant or use the services of a Virtual Assistant (VA). Administration is their area of expertise so provided you pick an excellent assistant you will get better quality results than most of us can produce within the same time frame. In the current economic climate it may be easier to source quality support at astonishing rates.
As I wrote this blog, I stumbled across a related article in the Harvard Business Review – Whitney Johnson’s Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Delegate (blogs.hbr.org). Ms Johnson advises you not to delegate if:
1. You are struggling to explain precisely what you want the delegatee to do?
2.You are putting your own development or ability to lead in jeopardy by delegating?
3. You are potentially undermining a project’s success by delegating?
Although the scenarios are more focussed on the corporate world, it is still an interesting read for small businesses and anyone working in a team.
The challenges described above can be overcome with some preparation.
Ndubuisi Ekekwe’s post, “The Leadership Lessons of Ants,” (also in the Harvard Business Review) for me sums up how small businesses could benefit from effective delegation. He concluded that small business are more likely to succeed if they engage and trust more people.
Below are my 3 steps to effective delegation:
1 – Prepare - you need to work out exactly what you are going to delegate. You need to be clear on your goals,objectives or deliverables and your expectation. If you reflect on your life and business, you will realise that you achieve more on those things that you spend a little time planning than those you jump into on impulse. There is the saying that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. This is true with delegation as well. Sort out your work, decide what and who you’ll delegate to and you are more likely to have a positive experience. Planning will also resolve some of the challenges mentioned above.
2 – Be S.M.A.R.T - set SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time limited. This is a good way of setting expectation and also ensuring the quality of output. I live my life on this concept. This has oriented all my activities towards the achievement of my goals, be them career, financial, academic or family based. An assistant/team member usually has a vested interest in the success of your business/project as their job security may depend on it - so be more trusting and don’t watch their every step with suspicion. Make sure to structure in checkpoints for reviewing any output and always keep communication lines open.
3 – Debrief - This is a vital stage that most people tend to ignore. Success needs to be celebrated and failure needs to be a lesson learnt. I have experienced good and bad delegation through out my corporate career but I have to say the experiences that have stayed with me have been the ones where hardwork was properly acknowledged and rewarded.
Some questions to reflect on this week:
How much time have I been spending on menial tasks?
What value adding activities can I invest more time on?
What tasks am I struggling to complete or wasting time on - can I delegate them?
Can I afford not to delegate?
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” About the author: Griselda is a mum, wife, engineer and accountant whose mission is to bring top management approaches to cash strapped small businesses and inspire them to be the BEST they can be! Visit her blog at www.awovi.wordpress.com”